North Texas Daily

Junior helps lead inexperienced volleyball team

Junior helps lead inexperienced volleyball team

Junior helps lead inexperienced volleyball team
September 29
23:59 2014

Kyle Youmans / Staff Writer

The Mean Green volleyball team is third in Conference USA in kills and fourth in hitting percentage with a 10-5 record. Junior outside hitter Carnae Dillard has become the focal point for the team and has helped lead it to those marks.

“I think having such a big freshman group, we need more leadership on the team,” Dillard said. “So stepping out of the box and actually being in a leadership role this year instead of doing what I did last year.”

Dillard grew up in the San Antonio area and attended Lady Bird Johnson High School, where she was named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State Team. She decided to commit to North Texas and is already in the top five in school history in kills and leads C-USA in kills with 244.

During her freshman year, Dillard recorded 552 kills, 296 digs and 91 blocks, which led her to become the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year. Senior defensive specialist Eboni Godfrey said Dillard has grown a lot from then to now.

“When she first came in she was a lot of just raw talent, laying the ball wherever,” Godfrey said. “Now she’s grown into a player who knows more about the game and who can realize when a team is really getting on one of her shots.”

Godfrey said that on the court, Dillard’s intensity has made her a game changer.

“She’s like the fire to get everyone going out there,” Godfrey said. “We’re down a couple of times and we need a play or we need a really big kill, she’s the one that we all depend on.”

Sophomore setter Amy Henard has been able to learn a lot from Dillard because of the example she set for the team.

“She would’ve led by example rather than vocally,” Henard said. “But as she’s gotten older, and this past year especially, with having a couple of freshmen coming in, she’s done a great job of turning into more of a leader and using her voice a lot more.”

Henard also said that Dillard makes her job as a setter a lot easier when running the offense.

“I can basically throw up any ball to Carnae and I can guarantee you that most of the time she’s going to put it down,” Henard said. “So having that and knowing that I can always rely on her and I have an out most of the time, then it’s game on.”

Throughout her time with the Mean Green, Dillard has seen a lot of change with a new conference, a new coach and an almost completely new roster of teammates beside her.

“I think that me focusing on what the team needs has really helped me,” Dillard said. “I know that I can’t make as many errors as I did last year and my freshman year, and I also know that I’m going to be put in pressure situations that I won’t like to be put in, but I need to focus and get out of them for my team.”

Featured Image: Junior outside hitter Carnae Dillard spikes the ball during the Mean Green’s first game of the North Texas Invitational on Aug. 29. Dillard had the top statistics of the match with 30 kills and 13 digs at the end of the set and North Texas secured a win over Northwestern State 3-2. Photo by Caitlyn Jones – Features Editor

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